Sporting Dog Defense Coalition Alert (02-07-08)
I. The Department of Agriculture wants us to believe that it has backed off from its animal rights agenda approach to revise by regulation, the state Dog Law. This is not the case. While it is talking about tabling or withdrawing last year's proposed regulations, it has come back with two draft bills and a separate regulatory action. YOUR HELP LAST YEAR WITH LETTERS AND IN ATTENDING MEETINGS HAS CAUSED THE DEPARTMENT TO SEEK LEGISLATIVE PATHWAYS. THIS IS A BATTLE THAT WE HAVE WON!
II. THE WAR IS NOT OVER. In the two bills they are proposing the Department wants to increase their authority to regulate UNLICENSED kennels the same as licensed kennels. There are still many confusing and onerous requirements and they are proposing an increased number and amount in civil penalties for minor violations.
III. Before these bills get to the State House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs we need to alert the state representatives on these committees that we are not happy. The Committee can kill these bills and never let them get to a vote.
IV. The Committee members are Representatives Mike Hanna (Chair); Art Hershey (Minority Chair); Democrats are Haluska, Kessler, Carroll, Cohen, Conklin, Daley, Grucela, James, Josephs, Mahoney, Myers, Oliver, Solobay, Yewcic, and Youngblood. Republicans are Boback, Brooks, Cox, Denlinger, Hickernell, Kauffman, Keller, Millard, Moul, Pickett.
V. If you are in any of these representatives' districts, they need to hear from you now, before the middle of February. A phone call is appropriate. A written letter is best. If you are writing, keep it short and simple. If you are unsure of who your state representative is, or if you need his or her phone number, you may find this information at www.legis.state.pa.us . At this site you can type in your zip code and it will tell you who your state representative is and how to contact him or her. This is what they need to hear:
1. We want a public, Committee Hearing on these bills.
2. As they are proposed in draft, we are vehemently opposed to these bills.
3. We do not support expanding the authority of the Department of Agriculture, we do not support transferring responsibility for coyote and wild dog damages to livestock to the Game Commission; we believe these bills represent an exceptional burden not only on licensed kennels but also small and hobby breeders.
4. Over the past year, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has demonstrated that it can crack down on puppy mills effectively. Existing laws and regulations are sufficient to address poor commercial kennels.
5. As a sport/hobby/club, we support our communities through tourism, taxes, and purchases of dog related supplies. We provide environmental benefits such as open space and wildlife habitat. We provide recreational benefits to our members and the community. These bills will adversely affect our existence.
VI. We are working closely with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance on these issues. USSA has spent nearly a half million dollars on this fight. They have been exceedingly successful in opening doors for us. However, as individuals and clubs we carry more weight with our elected representatives than any lobbyists. As clubs and individuals the fight is on us.